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How To Prevent Identity Theft

By taking these steps, you can deter ID theft from the source:

  • Don’t give out personal info over the phone, through the mail or over the internet.
  • Safeguard your personal information in a secure place at home.
  • Shred documents with personal information
  • Protect your SS#.
  • Pick up new checks at the credit union versus having them mailed to your home.
  • Mail bills from locked mailbox or Post Office
  • Beware of Shoulder Surfers at ATM’s or Stores

More helpful tips...

  • Use electronic deposit of paychecks, dividends, pension and Social Security payments and tax refunds
  • Don’t authorize payments over the phone unless you call a specific/known creditor
  • Keep a list in a safe place of credit/share draft account numbers, expiration dates, and phone numbers to report theft.

Your Social Security Number

Your Social Security number has since come to be used as a unique identifier for individuals within the United States. Therefore, it is important to keep it safe and to use it only when it is necessary.

  • Never give your SSN, account numbers, passwords, mother’s maiden name, birth date, PIN, or personal information over the phone, unless you initiated the call
  • Keep SSN off of driver’s license
  • Don’t carry SS card in wallet unless you need it that day
  • Don’t use last 4 digits of SSN as a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Memorize PINs!
  • Don’t let clerks handwrite SSN on checks as ID
  • Don’t have SSN preprinted on Checks (re-order them without SSN)

Know when you have to give your SSN and when you don’t!

Must Give SSN:

  • Credit Union/banks
  • Employers
  • Income tax records
  • Vehicle registration
  • Credit bureau reports
  • College records
  • Loan applications

May Want to Refuse:

  • Over the phone
  • On personal checks
  • On driver’s license
  • On club membership
  • As ID for store purchases
  • As general identification

Protect Your Computer

  • Install and update current virus software
  • Install firewall software to partially guard against spyware
  • To see if computer is infected with spyware, install spyware detection and removal software (such as Spybot Search and Destroy, or Ad-aware)
  • Install a spam blocker, free from
  • Use a secure browser-it scrambles information you send over the internet

More tips to protect your computer...

  • Don’t download files or open attachments from strangers
  • Only open attachments your expecting
  • Don’t click on link from unfamiliar senders
  • Use strong passwords-combination of letter (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols
  • Avoid automatic log-in; always log off when done
  • Securely erase your hard drive before disposing of your computer
  • Re-format hard drive (reinstall Windows), or
  • Use hard drive erase utility

Online Prevention Tips

  • Shop only companies you know
  • Use secure browser (look for closed padlock or unbroken key at bottom of browser window-not payment page)
  • Pay only with credit card, or with third-party intermediary (you have some protections if merchandise is defective, not as described, or is not received at all)
  • Consider using a separate credit card for online purchases, to track purchases easily

Identity Fraud

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